My Mistake

Fwd_ Pint of Beer for Beijing Cream“I was wrong,” Stan admitted.

A moment later, a pitcher of beer hit the floor, scattering shards of glass and sending globs of froth flying.

Heads turned.

Jaws dropped.

An audible gasp broke the shocked silence.

Not only had a precious pitcher of beer met its untimely demise but more unbelievably, someone at The Pit admitted they were wrong.

Not just someone mind you, but Stan, and he admitted to being wrong about something he is always right about.

Stan was discussing hydro-static transmissions with a guy from the Caterpillar dealership in Rochester. They had been locked in a titanic battle of wills for hours about the most technically obscure of subjects, when suddenly Stan admitted he was wrong.

The effect was as electrifying as it was dumbfounding.

The entire Thursday night compliment of The Pit lowered their beers in unison to gape open mouthed at the most unlikely of events. Did they actually hear what they thought they heard?

How could one be sure?

None of us knew what to do, so we did what we always do when confronted with a question that threatens the very foundation of our world, we blithfully ignored it.

Everyone went back to what they were doing as if nothing had happened, leaving only the sparkle of glass and the shimmer of beer on the floor to bear witness to the evenings events.

“I got to go,” Stan announced as he swiveled away from the bar and tested his legs before trusting his weigh to them.

“Hold up there, buddy,” I told him, “it’s your turn to pick up the tab.”

“Are you sure?” he asked, “I thought I paid last time.”

As he reached for his wallet, I thought back to last Thursday and vividly recalled paying. But it was the very clarity of that memory that undermined my confidence in it. From my criminal justice experience, I have come to know that the more brilliant a memory presents itself, the more likely it is to be false. The reason it is so brightly realistic is that it is fresh in your mind because you just created it.

“I’ll take your word for it,” Stan said, “Heck, I was wrong once already this evening.”

Now I had real doubts and Stan’s unexpected burst of sincerity only reinforced my skepticism. “I tell you what,” I told him, “I’ll pick it up this time, but next week…” I shook my finger.

I was barely through the front door when my wife tossed a question my way, “How much did you blow tonight?”

I gave her the amount and explained it was my turn to pay.

“No, it wasn’t,” she said.

“Yes, it was,” I said as I trailed her into our home office.

She looked at me with utter disgust. “I’ll bet Stan spent the entire evening plotting how to get out of picking up the tab,” she said, “the guy would do and say anything to avoid parting with a nickel.”

“That is just not true,” I told her.

She rummaged through our file cabinet until she found what she was looking for, then she handed me a wad of bills.  “Here is your VISA statements for April, May, June and July,” she said, “don’t you realize that you pay every time you go to The Pit with Stan?”

I shook my head, no.

She shook her head, yes.

Our battle of wills raged well into the evening because though she had the evidence to prove her point, there was no way I was going to admit I was wrong.

Author: Almost Iowa

45 thoughts on “My Mistake”

  1. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why some people can’t admit when they’re wrong. Doesn’t the guilt drive them nuts? It sure does drive me loony. Also, by me admitting I’m wrong, I get to feel I’m the better person for doing so.

    1. I prefer being around people who cannot admit to being wrong. Once you admit it, like with Stan, they are utterly dumbfounded and your secret power over them become enormous. It is always worth a beer or two. 🙂

  2. Stan had me fooled for a minute there, too. But obviously it takes a devious mind to make sure that someone else picks up the tab every single time!

  3. Amazing story! It shook my faith in both memory (I already knew my own memory is becoming frightfully unreliable) and worse, in evidence! What can I hold on to? What can I have faith in? Maybe I should turn to God.

    1. As new knowledge about the creation and manipulation of false memories and the coloring of real ones, shakes our confidence, nature has risen to our rescue with video cameras in every pocket and an internet that forgets nothing.

      1. The universal presence of video cameras, inside and outside, in public places and private places, and the long tentacles of the Internet — this technology has its usefulness, but it does not bring me comfort. For comfort, give me beer or mashed potatoes.

  4. “From my police experience, I have come to know that the more brilliant a memory presents itself, the more likely it is to be false. The reason it is so brightly realistic is that it is fresh in your mind because you just created it.” Is that real? Funny and believable, but I feel like I believe it because I just heard it.

    1. It is very real. If you want to know more about it, read up on Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus’ work on false memory. Some people are more susceptible to it than others, but a good lawyer can implant details of memory into a witnesses statement, often to discredit them.

  5. Ah, what a clever ploy. I’d better not let my husband read this. If he admits he’s made a mistake I shall immediately start looking for ulterior motives.

    1. Yeah, you got to really watch it when people honest. It usually means they are up to something. Whenever I hear a politician tell the truth, I duck for cover.

        1. Of course they do. There are three historical examples I can point to (though not right now) and rumor has it that a mayor in a small Montana town spoke the truth in the winter of 2002.

  6. I’ve had a hard time following this after the pitcher of beer fell on the floor. What a waste. 🙂 Admitting your wrong is always interesting. I readily admit it. I’ve never had any issue doing it. My husband not so much until I get those receipts out. 🙂

    1. On my first editing run through, I encountered that shattered pitcher of beer and burst into tears. I don’t know how I got through it. Keep those receipts.

  7. Your linking of an “electrifying” effect with a discussion of hydro-static transmissions is great, but I’m still bothered by all that glass and beer on the floor. Is it still there?

    1. Many years ago, I visited a few friends working on an archaeological project at Fort Walsh in the stunningly beautiful Cypress Hills of western Alberta and eastern Saskatchewan. They claimed that one could see the lines of what once was the floor boards of the fort tavern etched in glass and gold by the sunset. Unfortunately, clouds blocked the sun for the entire time I was there. I doubt if there is any gold laying beneath The Pit, but there is sure to be a lot of glass.

      PS. The North-West Mounted Police, known today as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were established in large part because of a massacre of Assiniboine near Fort Walsh.

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